Although I should have been working, I spent an hour last night trawling through glossy brochures for British cottage holidays. Not because I want to go on holiday - what’s a holiday? - but because I’ve found that holing myself up in an isolated cottage, alone and preferably without the use of a television, helps me to write. Such isolation may not be required by people with few distractions at home - no kids, no spouse, no pets etc.. But for me, it’s a must. Once a year if I can afford it, I slope off for a long weekend or possibly a week, which is the longest I can spare away from the kids, to a tiny cottage somewhere in the most rural areas of the country. Preferably in winter when prices are cheaper and I can have an open fire in the evenings (which I love but can’t have at home because there are holes in our chimney stack and the smoke comes out horizontally instead of vertically, which fills the house with smoke).
Once installed in my dark little cottage, I tend to work until 3 or 4 in the morning most nights, sleep until about 10am, go for a walk in the crisp winter air and start work again at noon. Break for a late lunch and supper, about an hour each time. Maybe read for an hour around 11pm, to clear my head and get away from the keyboard. Then it’s back to work until my fingers hurt or I’m falling asleep over the keys.
To truly appreciate that sort of regime, I think you have to be used to living with small and/or older children, with the multiple interruptions and endless daily chores they bring - get them dressed, give them breakfast, empty the potty, wash the clothes, clean the kitchen, change the nappy, make the lunch, change the nappy again, play games, sort out the dispute over colouring pencils, mop up spillages, put on boots and coats, supervise garden playtime, wipe noses, tidy the living room, hand out Scooby snacks, handle phone calls, empty the potty, write out school permission slips, go shopping, reprogramme the telly after the baby found the remote, hang the washing out, bring the washing in, write thank-you letters and why-she-wasn’t-at-school letters to various parties, change the nappy again, read stories, make the tea, clean the kitchen, empty the potty again, get them into pyjamas etc. - all of which conspire to stop me writing or even thinking about writing for most of the day. And then I have to find time for my husband. It’s a miracle I ever get to update this blog!
I have five children, including three year old twin boys and a baby girl. I love them all dearly, and wouldn’t be without them, but some days I get up at around 6.30am with the youngest and don’t manage to start work until after lunch. Other days I don’t get to my computer until late in the evening, when the younger children are in bed and the older ones have their noses pressed to the television screen. I usually manage to write something most days, but would write a great deal more if I was secreted away in a remote cottage in the Scottish Highlands or the wilds of Cornwall for a week, with not a potty or runny nose in sight. Bliss!